China will work to become within the next decade the most popular destination in Asia for overseas students, the Ministry of Education said Tuesday.
By 2020, the country hopes to attract 500,000 foreign students per year, 150,000 of whom will be in college, said a plan released by the ministry at a meeting here.
"The plan outlines our tasks for the next ten years," said Hao Ping, vice minister of education, at the meeting.
To realize the target, the ministry will improve the quality of teachers, the design of education programs and services for foreign students, Hao said.
Since the 1950s, China has received a total of 1.69 million foreign students.
"In recent years, the number of foreign students in China has rapidly increased," said Zhang Xiuqin, director of the International Department of the ministry.
In 2009, nearly 240,000 students from 190 countries and regions studied in 610 Chinese schools throughout the country.
"The growth is due to rise in China's status, the improvement of government administration, and better quality in higher education," Zhang said.
Some 12 Chinese provinces have scholarships for foreign students.